September 30, 2013
3 important career-development questions
After helping a client prepare for a major presentation in front of a large crowd at an industry meeting, we sat down to discuss how it went. She immediately turned to me and said, "How did I do? Is there anything I could have done better?"
I smiled, but didn't answer her. That's because there are three questions I wanted her to ask herself so she could determine her own lessons from the situation. They are:
1. What went well?
2. What didn't go as well as expected?
3. What would I do differently if I could have a "do-over"?
I use these questions in many different situations -- after presentations, after completion of a project or major task, after job interviews, after the start of a new job ... the list is almost endless.
I also ask myself these questions after the same instances. In addition, I use them after other events, such as meeting with a boss or editor, coaching/mentoring others, writing articles/blogs/books, etc. Why do I do this? Because it's usually through searching for answers ourselves that we learn the most.
Seeking to understand the answers to these three questions leads to knowledge. With knowledge comes wisdom, and with wisdom and experience you can improve and advance in your career. Let's look at each of the questions.
What went well? This asks you to think about the reasons to give yourself (or others) a pat on the back. It highlights the specific things you did well so you can remember those positive actions later.
What didn't go as well as expected? This draws out areas for improvement. These are things within your power to control, but the question can also reveal areas that may be outside your span of control.
What would I do differently if I could have a "do-over"? This encourages self-learning, because it asks you to apply the answers from the first two questions in a way that will help you improve your performance.
Answering these three questions will increase your self-awareness and encourage self-learning. Life is filled with experiences, and the key to success is being able to learn from them.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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